UPDATE: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Crowds gather in Nathan Phillips Square as they prepare to celebrate the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship in Toronto on Monday, June 17, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Hours of anticipation gave way to unbridled euphoria as a sea of Raptors fans greeted the newly crowned NBA champions with cheers, whistles and chants on Monday, but elation quickly turned to fear when gunshots interrupted the celebration in downtown Toronto.

Moments after the team emerged on stage during a rally at the end of a victory parade, the sound of gunfire sent dozens of panicked supporters running from the one end of Nathan Phillips Square, grabbing friends and children as they fled.

The festivities were briefly suspended as one of the hosts alerted the masses, most of whom had been there since the morning, that there was an emergency. Organizers urged the public to stay calm and the event resumed shortly afterwards.

Police said two people had been shot and suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. Two suspects were arrested and firearms recovered, police said.

Some fans said they feared for their lives and remained shaken even after the situation returned to normal. Others said the shooting, though frightening, should not mar the festivities.

“It’s so horrible that that happened but we are united as a city and that shouldn’t define who we are or what today was about,” said Ahilan Sivakumar, 19.

Several had huddled near pillars in Nathan Phillips Square even as the team and several dignitaries — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford — remained on stage during the rally. Others dashed into a nearby hotel or leapt into bushes to get out of the way. The ceremony wrapped up a short time later.

Andrew Singh said he heard what appeared to be gunshots before people started scrambling.

“We just saw the girl drop to the floor and the guy running off,” the 29-year-old said. ” All I heard was bop bop bop.”

The rally — and the shooting that interrupted it — capped off a day that saw fans dressed in red and black — the Raptors’ colours — take over swaths of the city’s downtown. City officials said more than a million people were gathered in and around the area.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BREAKING: Homicide investigators probe suspicious death on Highway 1 north of Yale

RCMP found a person with life-threatening injuries early Wednesday, who later died at the scene

VIDEO: Chilliwack teachers give rolling award ceremony to students

Four teams of staff travel the city to hand out awards in person

Family of dead Abbotsford football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Uko family disappointed in actions of Regina hospital, hosting public funeral service this weekend

Mayor of Chilliwack says it’s time to have ‘uncomfortable conversations’ about racism

‘It’s past time we listen to those who haven’t been heard, and extend kindness to everyone,’ mayor says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

VIDEO: Learning begins with new indigenous name for Chilliwack school

Stito:s La:lam Toti:lt will open in September 2022 for students from K-8

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

COVID claims 23rd Langley Lodge patient, making it the deadliest outbreak in B.C.

Coronavirus kills another senior at Langley care home, bringing B.C. total to 166

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe BC over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Rob Vroom, died as a result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Most Read